World Cup eyes Denver

By Steve Smith
Posted 2/2/10

The two area high school soccer coaches think the Denver area could host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup Soccer Tournament.     The Fédération Internationale de Football …

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World Cup eyes Denver


The two area high school soccer coaches think the Denver area could host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup Soccer Tournament.

    The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the world’s governing body for soccer, tabbed Denver as one of 18 potential host cities in the United States for either of those soccer tournaments. Other cities still in the derby are Miami, Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Seattle, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Nashville, Kansas City, Houston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York.

    “The area does have a legitimate shot, due to the amount of fields and facilities we have in the area,” said Prairie View coach Jason Oulman. “I believe that Dick’s is one of the most impressive and sound stadiums in the country. We also have Invesco at Mile High if need be or even CU’s stadium.”

    “The Denver World Cup Organizing Committee has put forth a strong bid for Denver with INVESCO Field at Mile High as the proposed competition site and Metropolitan State, University of Denver and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as three of the practice sites,” said Sue Baldwin, director of business development for Denver Sports. “Even though years out, this will be a great thing for Denver.”

    BHS soccer coach J Doehring thinks the area will benefit even if it’s not chosen as the host site.

    “There would be huge benefits to the Denver area if we are selected to host games for the event,” he said. “Youth soccer, in particular, would benefit from an enthusiasm generated by hosting the event. The opportunity to see games played at such a high level is beneficial to soccer as a whole for the area. I think it would energize the youth soccer movement even more than it already is. Even just being selected as a potential site could benefit the area.”

    Youth soccer programs are flourishing in the area and across the country. But that interest hasn’t necessarily translated to more fans watching the Rapids.

    “If the World Cup is considering our area, it can easily lead to a boom in youth interested in playing the sport as well as parent interest and support,” Oulman said. “Bottom line. It will make the sport matter more to Americans and Colorado residents as well, which will increase its value as a sport in America.”

    Denver Sports, not the city of Denver, is the guarantor for any World Cup games. But the economic impact to the city and the surrounding area could be substantial. Baldwin said FIFA officials put the amount of revenue at between $300 million and $500 million, depending on the number of games a city could host (somewhere between two and four).

    By comparison, Baldwin said hosting an NCAA women’s Final Four tournament is worth $30 million to a city’s coffers. The reason for the difference, she said, is a smaller venue for the event and the fact it’s held over a shorter time period.

    “I can’t speculate on any advance costs needed as we are in the preliminary bid process,” Baldwin said. “USA Soccer essentially narrowed their bid cities to 18. All will be included in their bid to FIFA in May. 

    Oulman thought there would be an upgrade to the facilities just outside Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home of the Colorado Rapids professional soccer team.

    “I would love to see soccer here,” Oulman said. “I think that this is such a unique venue for such an amazing spectacle because of the altitude and the types of new tests it would put players through. Plus, it would be a gigantic boost for the economy in the area.”

    “When I was growing up, I remember getting up at 3 in the morning to watch the US play in World Cup events,” Doehring said. “We would record the games on VHS just to have soccer to watch because the mainstream television did not play soccer at that time. Kids nowadays have many venues for watching high level good quality soccer at their disposal.”

    FIFA will make the decision for both World Cups in December.

    “So, until the country is awarded the event, details are preliminary. USA Soccer will then need to pare down the host cities from 18 to 12,” Baldwin said.

    Doehring thought the area’s elevation might hurt Denver’s chances.

    “All of the other venues are at or near sea level,” he said. “With the schedule of events, some would see it as a problem to play at our elevation, especially if one of the teams playing had an extra days rest to travel and acclimate to the elevation. If we are awarded the chance to host games it would be a positive to Denver.”




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